Art Matters – is an idea that resonates from the art galleries, stages, musical instruments, and words of young artistically inclined people all over this city. It is also the moniker of an annual arts festival that transpires on Concordia’s campus this time of year.
The second annual Art Matters festival was launched last Friday at the Oscar Peterson Concert hall with an outstanding musical performance by The Hot and Groovy and Mingus Mingus Mingus.
The stage was sparsely set with dividing boards of various sizes and colours, which provided an interesting visual backdrop, while not interfering with the music being performed.
The Hot and Groovy went on first and performed Lova Venues, a diverse set of eight songs strung together by a spoken word story. The show was created and arranged by the collective effort of three vocalists; Natasha Poirier, Chantale Marchand, and Caroline Giguere.
Once they choose the songs, they decided it would be interesting to enrich the performance by weaving a story through the set.
The story begins by Lova stating that she is on a journey, a quest for love, and that she needs soul food to sustain her on her journey. This statement set the tone for the show, for although there was a very diverse mix of songs, the underlying element tying all the tunes together was soul.
Song selection was dynamic and spanned many years and genres, some songs performed were Willie Dixon’s classic blues tune The 7th Son, a Samba-fied version of Mornin’, an impressive a capella rendition of Cole Porter’s I’ve Got You Under My Skin, a low-key Aquarius, and several original songs composed by Natasha Poirier, Pierre Jr. Daoust, and Chantale Marchand.
As the show progresses the story unfolds into a poetic non-linear tale of a young woman who in searching for love and discovers that she must first become intimately acquainted with herself. The woman meditates on her past, her relationships, and then is struck by an epiphany and claims that she finally found herself when she stopped chasing.
The excellent vocal performances of Poirier, Marchand, and Giguere were backed up by Pierre Beaulieu (bass), Christian ST-Pierre (piano), Gueorgui Harizanov (guitar), and Jeremy MacCuish (drums). The musicians played solidly, each one shining at certain points during the show.
Following a short intermission, Mingus Mingus Mingus took to the stage. The band was led by Karine Houle and featured Houle on tenor saxophone, Dominic Rossi on trumpet, Caroline Larouche on trombone, Melissa Pipe on baritone saxophone, Chantale Morin on piano, Ryan Fleury on bass, and Jeremy MacCuish on drums.
The band exclusively played compositions of the legendary jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus. “It is very challenging for brass,” Caroline Larouche said of Mingus’ work.
Indeed, Mingus’ harmonically complex compositions were deftly executed by the jazz students. In attempting such a daunting challenge, it can be excused if they did lack somewhat the passion and richness of Mingus’ great bands.
Mingus Mingus Mingus made up for any lack by adding there own personality and uniqueness to the songs, which was evident, not only in the arrangements, but in their funky attire and the quirky minimalist solos they took when the band was introduced at the end of the show.
On several tunes Mingus Mingus Mingus deviated from the original recordings and infused them with their own personalities, which demonstrates their understanding of the true spirit of jazz.
Following the concert a party was held above the cafeteria to celebrate the first day of the Art Matters festival. There was more jazz provided by a quartet of students.
A paper canvas was hung on a wall and paint was provided to give attendees the opportunity to express themselves visually. Although mostly focused on music this event intertwined aspects of spoken word and visual arts, and in bringing together different disciplines showed that art is multi-faceted, ever-evolving, and indeed – matters.
The Art Matters festival continues until March 15. For more information refer to http://artmatters.concordia.ca.